Protests erupt in Bangladesh after war-crimes verdict


By Farid Ahmed for CNN
February 7, 2013 — U

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) – Outraged by a court verdict they considered too lenient, thousands of people took to the streets across Bangladesh on Wednesday demanding the death penalty for an Islamic party leader convicted of war crimes carried out more than four decades ago.

“We’ve taken additional measures across the country to heighten security,” State Minister for Home Affairs Shamsul Hoque told reporters.

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The demonstrations began Tuesday, when an International Crimes Tribunal sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant secretary general for the Jamaat-e-Islami party, to life in prison.

The Jamaat-e-Islami party had called for a two-day general strike across Bangladesh beginning Tuesday, and demonstrators clashed with police and demanded that ruling party officials scrap the trial process.

The government on Tuesday evening called in paramilitary troopers to maintain law and order in Dhaka and elsewhere as deadly protests erupted after the verdict.

Jamaat-e-Islami protested the verdict as demonstrators — including some from ruling party alliances — took to the streets demanding the death penalty for Mollah.

Read more: General strike disrupts life in Bangladesh

“We’ve deployed troopers from the Border Guards of Bangladesh to maintain law and order,” Hoque said.

Hundreds of Dhaka University students took to the streets in the capital’s Shahbagh Square, where they were joined by other city residents in protests that began Tuesday.

Home Ministry officials said security forces were patrolling in Dhaka and other major cities, including in the large southeastern port city of Chittagong, where at least four people were killed Tuesday during clashes between police and supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Police opened fire and shot tear-gas shells to disperse the protesters, who torched and otherwise damaged more than 100 vehicles in major cities.

Jamaat-e-Islami said its members would continue to protest; many of its leaders are behind bars facing charges of murder, arson, looting and rape stemming from the war of independence in 1971.

Read more: Clinton leaves drama in China for turmoil in Bangladesh

They said the war-crimes trials, which began after more than 40 years of independence, was done with “ill political motive.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina showed no sign of backing down, saying the trials would be completed at any cost.

The government, which promised in its election pledges in 2008 to complete the war-crimes trials, set up the tribunals in 2010.

Amid tight security, a three-member panel of judges of the International Crimes Tribunal-2 delivered the judgment against Mollah in a crowded courtroom on Tuesday.

Mollah, 64, was found guilty of five of six charges, including murder.

They included crimes against humanity, tribunal Chairman Justice Obaidul Hassan said.

After the verdict was read, Mollah stood from the chair on which he had been seated and cried, “Allahu Akbar!” (God is Great!)

He declared he was innocent and began to curse the judges and the government.

He then pulled a copy of the Quran from his pocket and held it in front of him, saying that the judges would one day find themselves on trial in accordance with the holy book’s law.

Lawmakers of the ruling party alliance criticized the verdict in parliament and asked the prosecution to appeal for the death penalty.

Mollah, who was the chief of the students’ wing of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1971, is the first Jamaat-e-Islami leader convicted in a war-crimes case by the tribunal.

On January 21, the same tribunal sentenced to death the first war crimes convict, Abul Kalam Azad, alias Bachchu Razakar.

Bangladesh had been the eastern portion of Pakistan until it gained independence in 1971 in a war that killed 3 million people.

 

Bangladesh freedom fighter says war crimes trial will set an example for world


Dhaka , Sun, 04 Nov 2012ANI

Dhaka, Nov.4 (ANI): Bangladeshi freedom fighter and chairman of the country’s University Grants Commission A. K. Azad Chowdhury has said that the successful holding of the war crimes trial in his country would set an example for the rest of world.

War crimes tribunal, which was set in 2010, requires wrapping up investigations of all those who were accused, as the government aims to finish their trials before Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s five-year term ends. She took charge of office in early 2009.

A former chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh‘s biggest Islamic political party and the country’s top Islamist leader, Golan Azam, is on trial for helping the Pakistani army during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence when the then East Pakistan broke away to form Bangladesh.

Jamaat -e-Islami and its close ally the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party allege that the tribunal hearing the case takes orders from the government.

While talking reporters in Dhaka, the former freedom fighter stressed that holding of trial in a proper manner will project Bangladesh with a positive image.

“Why not there should be a justified trial to strengthen and bolster the human values, and give a teaching and lesson to the world that nobody can get away doing this sort of genocide and criminal activity and war crimes? This is more needed for the civilisation to uphold this sort of trial. It is not only Bangladesh’s cause, definitely Bangladesh has sore point in its heart,” said Chowdhury.

Chowdhury also added that the implementation of justice in this case will deter other tyrants in the world and will put an end to such acts of crime against humanity in future.

“The world at large should and will appreciate in such a manner that no other evil force in the world wherever it is will venture to commit crimes against humanity, to commit war crime. We are living in a civilised society though there are hotspots in the world. But systematic genocide and killing and such incidents are few and far behind. If this trial is properly done that will work as a deterrent to any other people who are conspiring or will be conspiring to commit genocide,” he said.

Chowdhury said that if anybody would try to defend the alleged war criminals, it would put the entire genocide undercover.

“This sort of trial should not prolong that much. Some people are bringing about all those defence with the objective to delay the whole process. This is in another word denial of the war crime trial. I expect the process will be expedited for the sake of humanity, for the sake of Bengali nation, for the sake of mankind,” he said.

Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, gained independence with India’s help in December 1971, following a nine-month war against Pakistan. Around 3 million people were killed.

The Islamist groups in Bangladesh want to scrap “secularism” as a state principle in the Muslim-majority country.

Jamaat-e-Islami opposed Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan and fought with the Pakistan army.

They were allegedly involved in war crimes and have thousands of militant followers, including in the Defence forces, analysts say.

Dozens of other Jamaat leaders including its chief Moulana Motiur Rahman Nizami and secretary-general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid are already in prison accused of war crimes.

A court in Bangladesh charged prominent opposition politician Moulana Delwar Hossain Sayedi with war crimes in the country’s 1971 war of independence.

Court officials said Sayedi was the first to be formally charged with war crimes, and others would be charged soon. (ANI)

Bachchu Razakar goes on trial
Sun, Nov 4th, 2012 7:18 pm BdST
Dhaka, Nov 4 (bdnews24.com)—The second war crimes tribunal of Bangladesh on Sunday ordered the start of the trial against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abul Kalam Azad, better known as ‘Bachchu Razakar’, on eight charges of crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation Warin 1971.The three-judge International Crimes Tribunal–2 led by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir framed charges against Azad and set Nov 14 for witness deposition to start.

The court also threw away a plea by Azad’s counsels seeking his acquittal.

The prosecution on Sept 2 had submitted former charges linking him to crimes against humanity including genocide, murder, rape, arson, loot, abduction, deportation and persecution.

Prosecutor Shahidur Rahman had said the Pakistan Army entered Faridpur on Apr 21, 1971. On that day, Azad along with the Pakistan troops murdered eight people at Faridpur’s well-known Jagatbandhu Ashram and later killed Kolaron village Zamindar (landlord) Sudhanshu Mohon Roy and his son Monimoy Roy, he added.

‘Bachchu Razakar’ is said to have been an accomplice of Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed in Faridpur district during the war.

He was a member of Jamaat’s student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha when he was a student of Rajendra College in Faridpur in 1971.

After Mar 25, 1971, Azad formed a group of his own which committed crimes against humanity in different places in Faridpur during the war.

The ICT-2 on Sept 9 accepted charges and ordered his arrest and production by Sept 23.

The arrest warrant for him was issued in April, police failed to find him after raids on his office and residence. He is believed to have fled to Pakistan.

The tribunal on Oct 7 decided to continue trial in Azad’s absentia as he did not turn up even after public notice was issued for his appearance.

bdnews24.com/eh/shs/bd/1900h